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I was going through a bunch of old photos on my phone this weekend, and I found a ton of pictures I couldn’t believe were me! What a difference a year makes. It’s January 2018 and it’s officially been one year since I committed to making fitness a consistent part of my life. Even though I have only lost about 3 lbs in 2017, the changes are still huge. It’s proof that not all results can be found on the scale alone, so I attribute a majority of my transformation to exercise.

Let’s recap a bit. In 2016 my new year’s resolution was to get healthy, and I spent the whole year focusing on my diet alone. (no exercise). I really wanted to make a genuine change, so I figured I would start by mastering one thing at a time. I wound up losing 25 lbs. By December 2016, I was ready to introduce exercise to my routine. Before I made the commitment to be “an active person, who like, works out all the time,” I never went to the gym and my only real form of activity was walking my dog for 10 minutes a day. I was lazy and awkward and had no idea where to start of how to use any machines in the gym or move my body. Plus, the gym was just for meatheads and people obsessed with themselves right? (wrong!)

So in December 2016, after getting a hold on my nutrition, I was ready to introduce exercise to my lifestyle transformation and enlisted a personal trainer to help me figure it out. My first workout was doing 5 minutes on a stair master and 10 lunges down a hallway – after 2 minutes on the stair master I could hardly breathe and I stopped after 3 minutes. I also could barely complete 5 lunges without crying out in agony, and I struggled to walk for about a week afterwards from being so sore. Fitness is terrible and this will never get easier OR fun, I thought. It was a nightmare, but you have to start somewhere right? I’m glad I did…

Tired, but sweating feels so good!

Fast forward a year and I can now do 40 minutes on the stair master nonstop, and I typically do about 60 lunges with weights during a normal training session, on top of a bunch of different workouts. I usually spend about 1-2 hours at the gym at a time, and go 4-6x a week. My endurance has increased dramatically, I can lift heavier weights, and I rarely get super sore after a training session.

So how did I go from being clueless in the gym and a couch potato to working out 4-6x/week and getting strong? It’s something I always wondered back in the day. I’d see super fit people walking around and think, “how the hell do people learn to like exercise? How do you learn what to do in the gym to get a good workout? How do you stay consistent?” I would look up workout videos on YouTube, but be too chicken to try them out at the gym.  It was all foreign territory to me. I’m hoping that by sharing my story I can help other people who might feel that way or have no idea where to start with their own journey.

Here is the big secret: I made a decision, and I started doing it. That’s it. I showed up at the gym that first time, knowing very well I was clueless and just did what the trainer told me, even though I sucked and it was so hard. And then I came back a couple days later and did it again. And then I came back a couple days later, and did it AGAIN. And again. And again. And it was always hard, but I did it anyway and most importantly I didn’t give up on myself. I would plan my schedule (and meals) around the gym so I had no excuses. I started off small – I would shoot to go to the gym 2-3 days a week minimum, and over time I slowly increased that. And each hard day turned into weeks, and each of those weeks turned into months, and every month I slowly started to suck less at the gym and get a better idea of what I was doing in there.

Dec. 2016 (left) and Dec. 2017 (right). What a difference a year of fitness makes!

And yes, I started out with a trainer. I happened to be dating one at the time (thanks boo), but I recommend anyone feeling clueless about fitness to get some help from a professional who knows what the heck they are doing. They will lead you through the workouts, check your form and make sure you’re not going to hurt yourself doing that thing you saw on YouTube. They will give you workouts personalized for your fitness level, push you when necessary, and help you reach your goals. It’s the best investment you can make, especially in the beginning. I learned so much from working with a trainer that I eventually knew my way around the gym enough to do it solo.

I would also take group fitness classes at the gym – usually I was the slowest person in the room, the last to finish, the one using the least amount of weight or struggling most to get through the workout. I probably looked stupid, I thought, but I didn’t even care. That’s the whole reason of showing up right? To get better. So I kept coming. And I kept trying different classes: kickboxing, spin, yoga, HIIT, and more. I made a commitment to fitness, and part of that was to get to know the limitations of my body and build that relationship with myself. So trying different things, pushing myself in different way, and exploring my body was a really important part of the process.

I love feeling strong!

Before I started my fitness journey, I never thought I could get where I am now. But I realize that like with anything you want to “get good at,” you need to keep practicing and dedicate time to make it there, and be kind to yourself in the process. I am still by no means an expert, and many times I still struggle to get through a class and I’m still working on getting stronger (still can’t do a push-up!) but I love the way my body feels when I exercise. If I go a couple days without working out something feels off.

I definitely enjoy the physical benefits of working out (buying smaller pants! whoo hoo!), but the best result of exercise is the way it makes me feel inside. I sleep better than I ever have since I started working out. It doesn’t take me 3 hours and 2 cups of coffee to wake up every morning. I get up feeling refreshed, alert, and ready to take on the day. My mood has improved and I have 5x more energy.

I still feel like I’m at only the beginning of my journey. As I enter year two, I am looking forward to getting stronger, leaner, and more athletic. I have awhile to go and there’s a lot left to learn, but with my first year under my belt, I am ready to take my fitness to the next level! Overall, working out makes me feel ALIVE, and for that reason alone I have learned to love exercise. I guess am “one of those people” now after all.

 

 

 

January 27, 2018
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Meal prep is great and all, but in my opinion, the real key to success with nutrition is being on top of your snack game. SNACKS. Aren’t they the greatest? I don’t know about you, but I am constantly hungry, and pretty much always in the mood for a snack.

A lot of feedback I get about meal prep is that people are afraid of being hungry, or that they don’t think the meal will be enough food. Well, that’s kind of the point, and that’s also where snacks come in. By eating lighter meals and then having small snacks throughout the day, we are constantly fueling our bodies for the day! And by having nutritious snacks prepared in advance, you won’t need to worry about going hungry at all.

Now, I’m not suggesting that you should be chowing down on chips, candy or just anything you can get your hands on. I’m talking about planning balanced, nutritious, and tasty snacks to keep your metabolism going all day long and to prevent yourself from getting hungry.

The Rules of Snacking

Snacking is often vilified as some evil thing that makes you fat and unhealthy. Let me shake that stigma. Snacking shouldn’t be something you do when you’re bored, but more so something you do every couple hours or so when you need a boost of energy, if you’re feeling a little hungry, and to keep your metabolism going.

Ideally, you should try to eat one snack between every meal, before and/or after a workout, or late at night if you’re hungry but don’t want to eat a big meal before you sleep.

A good snack will have protein and some carbs (slice of cheese and an apple). Maybe some healthy fats (such as avocado or peanut butter or nuts). I usually crave savory things in the morning, and sweet things in the afternoon, so my snack schedule will look something like this, for example:

  • Mid-morning (after breakfast, before lunch): 1/2 cup baby carrots with 2 tbsp hummus
  • Mid-afternoon (after lunch, before dinner): small apple with 2 tbsp peanut butter

Before a workout I’ll usually go for carbs with a little protein for energy (think, slice of toast with peanut butter). After a workout I’ll usually go for some protein so I can build some muscle! (usually I’ll go for a protein shake or some eggs or chicken sausage)

How to Prep Snacks

Snack size Ziplock bags and multi-compartment reusable storage containers are your friends. I personally love to create little “Snack Boxes” to bring with me to work each week. I made these for my guy to bulk up at the gym too, and he loves them! Snack boxes are good for portions, and heck, they’re just fun. Look at em. Prep them on a Sunday, throw them in the fridge, and grab one every day before you head out the door to work.

Healthy Snack Options

The goal here is to watch your servings. Shoot for 100-200 calories per snack, and pay attention to your portions!

  • 1 chicken sausage link
  • 1 cup grapes
  • 2 boiled eggs
  • 1 handful unsalted nuts
  • 2 oz cold cuts like turkey breast or salami
  • string cheese
  • 2 tbsp hummus & 1/2 cup baby carrots
  • 1 small apple & 2 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 slice toast with 1/4 avocado mashed, or 1 tbsp peanut butter
  • Greek yogurt with blueberries & drizzle of honey
  • Protein shake
  • sliced strawberries & string cheese
  • Protein bar (lower in sugar, the better)

There are soooo many other snack options out there, but just by looking at these, it doesn’t seem too difficult to prep some snacks right? Happy snacking everyone!

 

April 7, 2017
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